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Jalebi - Sweet Crispy Swirls


Julie Sahni’s Jalebi
(crisp pastries in saffron syrup)

(Utar Pradesh region)

Jalebi, a syrupy sticky dessert from North India, are best eaten freshly made, when the interplay of the crisp, hot exterior against the spongy, syrup-soaked inside is quite extraordinary. They can be prepared ahead then set aside, covered, at room temperature. Just before serving, warm them in an oven preheated to 425 F (220 C) for six minutes, or for thirty seconds at full power in a microwave oven.

1 cup (8 oz/250 g) plain yogurt
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) hot water
1 cup (5 oz/155 g) all purpose (plain) flour
½ teaspoon baking powder, sifted
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water
¼ teaspoon saffron threads, powdered
vegetable oil for deep frying

Place the yogurt in a bowl. With a fork, whip it while slowly adding the water. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the yogurt mixture. Whisk to form a smooth, lump-free batter. Set aside while you make the syrup.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the syrup is lightly sticky, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in the saffron and remove from the heat.

In a wide saucepan, preferably nonstick, pour in vegetable oil to depth of 2 inches (5 cm) and warm over medium-high heat to 375 F (190 C) on a deep frying thermometer. Pour the batter into a squeeze bottle, such as a ketchup dispenser. When the oil is hot, squeeze a few spirals of batter, each about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter, directly into the oil. Fry the pastries, turning once, until golden and crisp, about 1 minute. Using tongs, remove each pastry from the oil and immediately dip it in warm syrup, immersing it fully, then transfer to a plate. Cook the remaining batter in the same way. Serve the pastries hot or at room temperature.

This recipe comes from the book Savoring India (256 pages), published by Williams-Sonoma, authored by Julie Sahni with photographs by Andre Martin and Michael Freeman

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